PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION
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What is Pelvic floor Dysfunction?
It’s the inability to correctly contract (tighten) and relax the muscles in the pelvic floor to have a bowel movement. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles on the floor of the pelvic area. These muscles support the organs in the pelvis and some form a sling around the rectum and vagina. The organs in this area include the bladder, uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum. By contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, you enable bowel and bladder movements. Some people with pelvic floor dysfunction contract these muscles rather than relax them. Because of this, they have difficulty in evacuating a bowel movement, they have an incomplete bowel movement, or they may leak urine or stool. While others are too relaxed and may experience pelvic floor weakness resulting in incontinence. Think of your pelvic floors like a bowl and its sole job is to hold all your reproductive and digestive organs and prevent urine and fecal matter inside. The pelvic floor is a complex thin muscle that must contract when appropriate or relax during a bowel movement or urination.
Damage to the pelvic floor not only contributes to urinary incontinence but can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs in women when pelvic organs (e.g. the vagina, bladder, rectum, or uterus) protrude into or outside of the vagina. The causes of pelvic organ prolapse are not unlike those that also contribute to urinary incontinence. These include inappropriate (asymmetrical, excessive, insufficient) muscle tone and asymmetries caused by trauma to the pelvis. Age, pregnancy, family history, and hormonal status all contribute to the development of pelvic organ prolapse. The vagina is suspended by attachments to the perineum, pelvic sidewall, and sacrum via attachments that include collagen, elastin, and smooth muscle.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can happen to anyone and is more common than you may think. Statistics show 1 out of every 5 people suffers from some type of pelvic floor dysfunction at some time in their life. Pelvic floor dysfunction at times can present with lower back pain, coccyx pain, sacroiliac pain, hip pain, constipation, and frequent urinary tract infections. Which is a big reason why it's often overlooked or misdiagnosed?